Merkley: Disaster Designation Will Help Provide Help to Oregon Fishermen and Coastal Economies

Merkley: Disaster Designation Will Help Provide Help to Oregon Fishermen and Coastal Economies

Washington, DC – Department of Commerce Secretary Gary Locke officially declared the 2009 salmon season a fishery failure in Oregon and California.  This step will make the states eligible for $53 million in unspent disaster funds from 2008.  Oregon’s Senator Jeff Merkley issued the following statement on the declaration:

“For the second year in a row, salmon harvests have been shut down in Oregon.  This is a disaster for our coastal communities and the families that depend on fishing for their livelihoods.  Secretary Locke is doing the right thing in officially designating the season a failure in order to provide emergency assistance to the affected communities.  But that doesn’t change the deep disappointment we in Oregon feel knowing that the season is shutdown once again.”

Earlier this month, Senator Merkley joined Senator Wyden and Representatives DeFazio, Blumenauer, Wu and Schrader in asking Locke to declare the 2009 season a disaster so that the Department of Commerce could take immediate steps in helping fishers and local communities.  They further urged that the Department not base funding allocation on last year’s request but on the current need so that all communities that rely on the salmon season receive some disaster assistance.